Blood transfusion

Miriam Peterson needed countless blood transfusions over her first two years after being born with heart defects. She spent much of her early days at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital, with her last surgery happening in February. Miriam’s second birthday on Sept. 11 coincides with one of Mankato’s major annual blood drives.

MANKATO — When Miriam Peterson turns 2 years old next week, she’ll have received countless blood transfusions to get there.

The local girl was born with a congenital heart defect on Sept. 11, 2017. She’s had four open-heart surgeries since then, each requiring transfusions.

Her mother, Laura Peterson, said Miriam wouldn’t be the engaging little girl her friends and family love so much without blood donations.

“It was a really important thing not only for saving her life but helping her heal and grow,” she said.

The American Red Cross is highlighting Miriam as an example of how donations save lives in the nonprofit’s preparations for one of its major drives of the year. Coincidentally, the Rock ‘N’ Roll Up Your Sleeve Blood Drive from Sept. 10-13 coincides with Miriam’s second birthday.

Laura said she hopes to see strong donation numbers at the drive. She encouraged prospective donors to keep in mind how their blood ends up helping patients like Miriam.

“When you’re giving blood you might not think of the end of the line process, where it’s going,” she said. “For us, those transfusions were a huge deal. I can’t stress enough that it doesn’t take that long, but it means a lifetime for somebody else.”

Miriam spent much of her first two years at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital. She had her first surgery in November 2017 because she was born with double outlet right ventricle, meaning her right pulmonary artery and right ventricle weren’t connected. She also has a rare genetic condition called DiGeorge Syndrome, which can cause more heart defects, autoimmune disorders and developmental delays.

After her second and third heart surgeries in April and May 2018, she needed a fourth in February to repair a left ventricle aneurysm. Her next surgery is a matter of when, not if, so Laura knows her daughter will need more blood transfusions in the future. It’s why she’s so grateful for the donors who keep supplies stocked.

Because of blood donations, Miriam recently started walking on her own. She loves to be around people, Laura said, including playtime with 4-year-old sister Eva.

Sue Thesenga, a spokesperson for the American Red Cross, said Hurricane Dorian is forcing blood drive cancellations in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. The result is 70 less blood drives and donation centers so far, adding up to 1,800 uncollected blood and platelet donations.

The goal for the multi-day Mankato drive is 300 units of blood, Thesenga said. A typical five-hour church blood drive brings in about 25 units.

“It comes at a really important time each year,” Thesenga said of Rock ‘n’ Roll Up Your Sleeve. “After our summer, it’s always a challenging time of the year to collect blood.”

Donors can schedule appointments during the blood drive at any of the following times and locations: 

  • 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday at Culver's, 1856 Madison Ave.
  • 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at Culver's, 1856 Madison Ave. 
  • 12:30 to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at American Red Cross, 105 Homestead Ave.
  • 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursday at Culver's, 1680 Commerce Drive
  • 12:30 to 5:30 p.m. Thursday at American Red Cross, 105 Homestead Ave.
  • 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday at American Red Cross, 105 Homestead Ave. 

Follow Brian Arola @BrianArola

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